Tuesday Jan 03 2012
Historic High Hand goes solar
By: Stephanie Garcia Loomis News Correspondent
The High Hand fruit shed may be 110 years old, but is joining the 21st Century with an installation of inverter solar panels. Designed to convert sunlight into electricity, the panels are located on each gable of the historic fruit shed and will produce immediate savings for the business. “The system will generate enough power to supply the sheds and conservatory with their heating, cooling and lighting needs,” said Scott Paris, owner of High Hand Nursery, Café and Conservatory. “Being in the green industry, this was a natural move for us.” Paris said he is excited for this next step into the future. “This solar installation will demonstrate, in the most visible way, just how important renewable energy is becoming in our everyday lives,” said Paris. He estimates he will see a return on his investment within five years. The first phase of the project will consist of the installation of 410 solar panels that will generate enough electricity for three-quarters of the fruit shed operations. "These solar panels are the ideal solution,” said Paris. He said he also intends to swap out old fixtures with new energy-efficient lights, bulbs and outlets. “We are committed to creating a green environment," he said. A slightly different solar installation is slated for early spring and will provide energy to the café. The project is a joint effort between High Hand and Magic Sun Solar, Inc., a Loomis-based business owned by Del Oro Alumnus, Brandon Hurlock. “We are excited for this job,” said Hurlock.” Being born and raised in Loomis, it feels good to help out another local business." “The installation will create 110 kilowatts of renewable electricity. That’s enough energy to make a lot of apple pies,” he said. If helping the environment and cutting costs for a local business aren’t enough, Hurlock and his team are also installing Sharp solar panels, which are manufactured in America. “Most panels are made in China,” said Hurlock. “We are pretty proud to be supporting other American businesses.” Although the massive project is expected to cost between $45,000 to $50,000, it will produce immediate savings which means a lot to Paris who said he spends about $55,000 per year on electricity. "As a business owner, we can’t stay atrophied forever, we must look forward to the future of technology and renewable energy," Paris said. “This project will go a long way in setting an example for others to follow and let’s them know that we can all be friendly to the environment.” High Hand is already a town landmark, and with a remarkable conservatory, nursery and art gallery it is now even more so. Visible from the main street, the solar panels are quickly becoming another area of interest for residents. For those who would like to understand the functioning of the solar inverter system in more detail, Paris said he intends to design an observatory room where the solar reading meters will be located. “Each panel can be individually monitored,” Paris said. “We want to display the electronic measuring devices to demonstrate to people how much energy is being produced in real-time.” Paris is focused on the future. “Our ultimate goal would be to be off the grid. That is going to take some time to figure out, but this is a good start,” the business owner said.